How well does Duterte know Putin?
President Duterte’s harsh words against US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and the European Union are getting a lot of flak here and abroad.
The negative reactions are not caused by the way he delivered his opinions about them, but by their “double meanings.” Some casino gamblers describe the President’s diplomatic style as a “Sa Pula, Sa Puti” game of chance.
In “pula mode” while at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, he said that the Philippines is separating from the United States of America; in the Philippines, his rah-rah boys, in “puti mode,” auto-corrected, as always, their big boss’ statements, interpreting them with words (like “separation” and “divorce”) that are not found in diplomatic vocabulary.
Worst (among the worst) is Mr. Duterte’s new vision—a triumvirate, composed of China, Russia and the Philippines, pitted against the United States of America, (which prompted Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to call him a communist.)
This may be because Mr. Duterte knows China is a communist country.
But why does he want to be friends with Russia? Maybe like me, he is still ignoramus; he may be thinking that Russia is a communist state.
A good friend provided me this information. Russia is not a communist country; it is a federal democratic state.
The President may also have the impression that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s present head of state, is a communist.
Yes, several of Russia’s former leaders like Stalin and Lenin were prominent communists. But Putin himself is a Christian by birth. He was christened secretly when Russia was still part of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR) because religion then was banned. He belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church which shares many of its basic beliefs with the Roman Catholic Church.
Putin may have been a former KGB agent of the USSR, but his party is not the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which is headed by Gennady Zyuganov. Putin’s party is the right wing United Russia, the largest and the dominant political party in Russia.
Unlike Mr. Duterte, Putin is a divorcee. But he is not marrying again, and he treats women like a true gentleman, which Mr. Duterte is definitely not as shown in a number of photos posted on the internet. Putin gave flowers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to Peng Liyuan, the wife of China’s President Xi Jinping.
Relations between Russia and the United States may be strained and Putin may be anti-American; but the two countries cooperate in programs like the ones geared towards nuclear arms reduction and space exploration.
And Putin’s friends include former US president George W. Bush and Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Xi. This means Putin will prefer Bush and Berlusconi to Mr. Duterte, or America and Italy to the Philippines.
So sad and bad, Mr. Duterte’s handlers are like elementary grade pupils.
ISIDRO C. VALENCIA, Makati City
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